We used to always tease my son that he had a "Teddy Bear" belly. My uncle who had passed was famous in my family for big belly but I never thought his belly was big due to a very large liver tumor.
Parkers journey began May 20, 2013, he has fell and was diagnosed with a hairline fracture of his right femur so his dad and I had been carrying him more. I noticed he had a hard spot on the right side of his abdomen and didn't really think anything about it but I work for a local family doctor so I took him to work with me to have it checked out. The nurse practioner I worked with looked at Parker first and said an x-ray was needed to see what it was so we went for an x-ray and by the time I got back to work from taking Parker back to babysitter my boss, a doctor called me into his office and I knew it wasnt good. He told me my baby had a large mass inside his liver I was devastated. My boss got us worked in at the local hospital for an ultrasound and then CT scan. I called my husband at worked and had to tell him this horrible news then we picked Parker up and took him to hospital for testing. By the end of that day we had a preliminary diagnosis of Hepatoblastoma stage 4 with Parker's tumor taking almost the entire length of his abdomen and it was across his midline in width it was a huge mass with numerous lung mets. This type of cancer is common in children with a family history of familial polyposis which I have because my dad had it and died 21 years ago from colon cancer. I had the gene and now it had passed to my sweet baby.
My boss had made some phone calls and we were admitted to Kosair the next day May 21, 2013. Immediately after a biopsy was performed and central line was placed. We got biopsy results on Friday and by Saturday we had a treatment protocol and chemo was started immediately. His AFP or tumor marker was in the thousands. After four rounds of chemo Parker's tumor has shrunk considerably and all of lung mets but one were gone so our oncologists sent us to Cincinnati Children's Hospital for a consultation with their transplant team of Dr. Tiao and Dr. Gellar, to see if resection was even an option. While doing all this Parker has suffered another set back his tumor was making his bones weak and at end of September he fell at home and suffered a full fracture of his left femur and was put in spika cast. In Cincinnati it was determined that his tumor had shrunk enough for resection and on October 22, 2013 his liver tumor was removed but the lung nodule wasn't responding to last round of chemo like our oncologist Dr. GELLAR wanted so his chemo was changed to stronger ICE chemo. We had two rounds of ICE chemo performed in Cincinnati after his resection in October, but his lung nodule wasn't getting any smaller, also it wasn't getting any bigger either. Dr. Powell our oncologist decided it was time for it to be removed, get it out and then do two more rounds of chemotherapy after that. So on January 23, 2014 Parker had his last lung met removed. The surgery was done with a scope and they put some blue dye around the nodule to make it easier to fine with the scope. Parker did so well and we were release less than 36 hours after the surgery was performed. Dr. Powell checked Parker's AFP after surgery and it was down to 36!!! We were beyond excited, because when Parker was diagnosed his AFP was in the thousands. We completed the last two rounds of chemo in February and March 2014. These rounds were performed Kosair Children's Hospital which made it to where Justin, Parker's dad was able to go to work during the day and I could stay with Parker. The last two rounds of chemo seemed to be harder on Parker's body about 10 days to two weeks after each round was completed his counts would get down to zero and he would spike a fever and we would be in Kosair for up to a week for blood and platelet transfusion and waiting for his counts to get above 500 We had Parker's END OF CHEMO party at Kosair while waiting for his counts to go up on March 25, 2014 .
Parker went for his final follow up since finishing chemo and having final scans on April 30, 2014 AFP had went from 36 to 7 to 4 which is normal so Parker is CANCER FREE!!! It just didn't seem real. We had been in his storm for so long I wasn't sure we were ever coming out, but we did. Our lives will never be normal again, Parker is not a normal boy, he is extra ordinary and my miracle child. He beat cancer!!! We continue with monthly oncology appointments as well as scans ever three months. I had another mother of a child who beat cancer send me a message the other day and she said " enjoy getting back to your new normal" and she is absolutely right, our lives will never be normal again, we have a new normal now. No one will understand that unless they have been there.
Cancer has always been a part of my life, as the oldest of four when my dad got sick I helped out and took care of him as much as a 12 year old can, but when your child is diagnosed with cancer it is a totally different role. My family has been through so much since that horrible day in May 2013 but Parker has made our lives so much better and we see things so much clearer-what is important and what matters most. Parker is such a strong and amazing little boy and I am so blessed to have him.
Thank you for supporting Parker and the more than 300,000 kids worldwide who will be diagnosed cancer this year. By sharing the gifts of your time, talent and money with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, you're supporting research to give all kids with cancer a better chance for a cure.